Greece Opens First Medical Pot Production Plant

History was made in Greece with the country inaugurating its first ever medical cannabis plant last Thursday.

According to the Greek Reporter, the plant, which opened in the city of Corinth, is backed by an investment from Tikun Europe, a subsidiary of Israel-based medical cannabis company Tikun Olam.

Adonis Georgiadis, Greece’s minister for development and investments, heralded the opening of the plant as a milestone for the country.

Speaking at an event for the opening of the Tikun plant on Thursday, Georgiadis said that cannabis could be “a product which we will be able to export throughout Europe because this factory can carry out huge exports to all major European countries,” as quoted by the Greek Reporter.

According to the outlet, Tikun Europe CEO Nikos Beis hailed the new facility in Greece as “the largest pharmaceutical facility in the industry in Europe.”

“A new era is beginning for our country with the operation of our Tikun Europe facility, paving the way for Greece to become one of the main players in the field of production and export of medical cannabis products,” Beis said, as quoted by the Greek Reporter.

The medical cannabis plant in Corinth, Greece. Credit: Tikun Olam

Greece legalized medical cannabis back in 2017, but the country’s government banned the import of such products in 2021, which effectively made it impossible for Greek patients to receive the cannabis treatment due to the lack of domestic production 

But that appears to be changing.

The country said last year that cannabis would soon be sold in pharmacies throughout Greece.

“The goal is for Greece to become the top European country in the production of medical cannabis. Greece’s environment is friendly for this particular plant and we think we will have a natural advantage,” Georgiadis told the Greek Reporter last year, which said that “foreigners will also be able to use medical cannabis in Greece” and will “be allowed to purchase it through pharmacies” so long as they have a prescription from their doctor.

The outlet reported at the time that Georgiadis anticipated “huge investments in the production of medical cannabis which the government hopes would add up to 1.5 billion euros ($1.67 billion) annually to state revenue.” 

The Greek Reporter has more on the facility:

“According to Tikun Europe, the plant can produce finished medicinal cannabis products in various pharmaceutical forms. The company aims in the immediate initiation of cultivation in the vertically integrated greenhouse unit, with an area of 21,000 m2 and an annual production capacity, reaching in full growth, the quantity of 10 tons of dry flower. The plants received will be used for propagation under strict protocols that will ensure the preservation of the unique characteristics of the mother plants to future generations. The facility is expected to reach its full capacity levels gradually in the near future, to deliver a wide variety of finished medical cannabis dosage forms.”

Tikun received its license to initiate operations on the facility last year. 

“It was a great pleasure to welcome the operating [license] of our production unit, the construction of which was recently completed,” Beis said in a statement at the time. “The operation of the plant will start very soon, bringing us one step closer to the [realization] of our vision: to meet the ever-increasing demand of Greece and Europe for high-quality medical cannabis products. Our factory is the largest pharmaceutical company in the specific industry in Europe and exploits the potential of our country to play a leading role in the global market for medical cannabis.”

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Israeli Company to Unveil Psilocybin Nasal Spray System

Israeli biopharmaceutical company Madrigal Mental Care will unveil novel nanotechnology to deliver psilocybin via nasal spray for the treatment and prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at Biomed Israel 2022, on May 10-12, 2022, at the David InterContinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, Israel, according to a May 9 press release.

Biomed Israel is a broad celebration of the life science and technology industries. At past events, the event attracted over 6,000 attendees, with 1,000 attending internationally from over 45 countries.

The novel nasal spray system enables nose-to-brain delivery of organic nanoparticles that encapsulate molecules of psychedelic substances—in this case, psilocybin. This nasal spray delivery system can also be used to deliver ketamine, mescaline, MDMA, and other psychedelics.

The nanotechnology was invented by Prof. Amnon Sintov, Department of Biomedical Engineering at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) with licensing from BGN Technologies, the Technology Transfer Company of BGU.

“An increasing number of studies point to the advantages of using psychedelic drugs for the treatment of psychiatric disorders such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and even addiction, with low doses,” Professor Sintov said. “Due to their powerful effect on the human brain, it is imperative to be able to deliver these drugs in a safe manner and in precise doses. Our novel nanotechnology platform enables encapsulation of precise drug doses in nanoparticles that are delivered directly to the brain via an intranasal spray, in a very efficient, fast, and safe manner.”

An increasing number of studies are exploring the use of psilocybin for the treatment of depression, end-of-life care, and PTSD. Since psilocybin is an 5-HT2A agonist, it’s being explored for its usefulness in many of these areas. The brain’s cortex is full of 5-HT2A receptors–notably in areas that control reflection, imagination, and introspection.

“Our technology ensures a focused and fast delivery of accurate doses of psychoactive substances. The nanoparticles are biodegradable and provide a significant advantage over common practices in terms of stability and accuracy,” David Gabay, Co-Founder, and Chairman of Madrigal Mental Care said. “In vitro studies, which were carried out by Prof. Shimon Ben-Shabat from the Department of Biochemistry and Pharmacology at BGU, show that the psilocybin doses used in the nanoparticles have a beneficial effect on inflamed brain cell cultures. We are currently beginning preclinical trials with rodents with the aim of achieving efficacy and safety approvals in order to begin first-in-human clinical trials next year. We have great confidence that this novel technology […] will propel forward the field of psychedelic-based treatments, for the benefit of millions of people around the world coping with chronic and acute psychiatric conditions such as PTSD and depression.”

Leadership acknowledged the growing need for alternative therapies that are needed when conventional therapies fall short, for conditions like treatment-resistant depression.

Dr. Galit Mazooz Perlmuter, Senior Vice President of Business Development, Bio-Pharma at BGN Technologies, noted, “There is a vast need for better treatments for PTSD and other mental disorders. We have filed a patent application to protect this unique approach, which is an excellent example of the kind of breakthrough technologies originating from top scientists at the Ben-Gurion University.”

As it turns out, the benefits of microdosing psilocybin to treat depression, PTSD, and other disorders isn’t just a Reddit topic anymore, as we see it being applied in a scientific setting.

Regarding nasal sprays to deliver psychedelics, in the U.S., the FDA approved an esketamine nasal spray for use in approved clinics around the country.

Israel is also home to a proliferation of cannabis-related medical device development as well, thanks to the country’s advanced approach to cannabis research.

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